Yesterday I took a field trip to meet Regina Holliday, an artist and patient advocate. She fielded questions after a screening of 73 Cents, a short film about why she painted a mural by that name in the days after her husband died with metastatic kidney cancer. He was 39 years old.
At the time of her husband Fred’s diagnosis, both she and her husband held several jobs but he lacked health insurance. In a video, Holliday describes how his diagnosis and care were delayed.
“73 Cents” refers to the price, per page, Holliday needed to pay to get a copy of her husband’s chart when he entered a new medical facility. According to the film, she was told she’d have to wait 21 days to get his records, even though he was acutely ill and dying. Now a widow with two young sons, she pushes for patients’ rights to access to their health records and, more generally, for a patient-centered approach to medical care.
The film-makers’ point: The unreasonable price of the medical records, combined with the delay in receiving them, exemplifies unnecessary harms patients encounter in an outdated, disjointed health care system.
Holliday has several ongoing projects, including the Walking Gallery. In that, she represents health care stories on the backs of people’s jackets. The idea is to take the message of the mural – which is one patient’s story, and necessarily static – and take it further.